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BOOK
Breathe

Author: Christopher Fowler
Telos
www.telos.co.uk
RRP 7.99, US $9.95, Cdn $14.95
ISBN 1 903889 67 7
Available 17 June 2004


All is not well at SymaxCorp. The work is piled high, people are toiling overnight to meet deadlines, and the supervisors are keeping their beady eyes on everyone. But staff are complaining of feeling sick, and the last health and safety officer mysteriously disappeared one evening never to be seen again. It's down to new boy Ben, together with temp Miranda, kick-boxing Meera and overweight June to try and get to the bottom of the problem. As colleagues are unexpectedly transformed into mindless, blood crazed zombies, Ben and his friends discover that there really is something in the air...

Breathe offers a premise that many will be able to relate to. If you work in an office where the air is pumped around the building, where you can't open a window and the temperature is regulated by someone you never see, then this book will make you think when you next step into your seemingly cosy working environment.

Personally, I know exactly how the characters in this book feel. I've worked in two air conditioned buildings in the last few years, the last one also had mirrors and glass everywhere. Most evenings I'd go home with a dryness in the mouth and sore eyes - a condition my co-workers also complained about.

But, despite the fact I can relate to the setting, I was not so willing to believe the blurb on the back of the book. This story is not "The Office meets Night of the Living Dead."

Up until the halfway mark the book sets the scene well. Then all hell breaks loose and the writing style changes - almost like the occupants of the office building. Everything happens so quickly and it starts to read more like a rough for a movie treatment than it does a book. The comedy element is also upped considerably during the second half of the story.

It's almost as though author, Christopher Fowler, started out intending to write a semi-serious story which provided some form of social commentary into the way we are working in comfortable, yet dangerously unhealthy, environments. But, at the last minute, decide that it would actually make quite a good horror/comedy story.

It is amusing, it is well written, it's just that it took ages for the action to build and then it was all over in a heartbeat.

Nick Smithson

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